Monday, March 23, 2009

Pecha Kucha & the Stadium

Dunedin is abuzz with things edgy and experimental this March. The Film Festival has drawn to a close and the Fringe Festival kicked in. Programmes are readily available in the city's cafes, cinemas, galleries, the library, etc... There are loads of exciting productions, exhibitions, plays and happenings to look forward to.    

I'm to be one of twelve presenters participating in the city's inaugural Pecha Kucha event at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery at 8.00PM on Sunday (29 March). 

This will definitely require leaving my shy llama at home and calling on my inner lion. It should be fun, though: if you're in town, it would be great if you could come along. So, saying, there's one big frustration and it's this: our really - really - important Stop The Stadium meeting is taking place in the Town Hall from 7.00PM on, on the same night. Eek. How to be in two places at one time? I'll certainly be at the STS gathering for as long as is possible that evening and do hope as many folk as possible will be turn up in protest of the appallingly corrupt, immoral carry-on that's defined the whole stadium process from woe to go. (Or no go, as we're all hoping... ). Those at the forefront of the resistance movement have been such stoics.     


Here's a bit about Pecha Kucha (NZ) as a general subject of interest -  

'Pecha Kucha is a unique presentation format started by Japanese architecture firm Klein Dytham Architechure in Tokyo in 2003 as a way of bringing designers, artists and creative people together to share their passion and ideas. The idea of Pecha Kucha is to keep presentations concise by only allowing presenters to show 20 images with 20 seconds per image. This equates to 6 minutes and 40 seconds per presentation. Pecha Kucha nights are now held in over 140 cities worldwide and have been established in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, and now Dunedin.'

Presenters at Dunedin Public Art Gallery - Sunday 29 March, 8.00PM

LUCA HEINS - Industrial Designer, Pecha Kucha NZ founder/Coordinator
GAVIN O'BRIEN - Designer, Lecturer at Otago, University Design dept
JANE VENIS - Sculptor, Polytecnic Design dept
LYNE PRINGLE - Dancer, Bipeds Productions
FELICITY MOLLOY - Pointy Dog Dance (Akld)
PETER ENTWISLE - Historian, arts columnist
TIM HEATH - Architect, Eco Sanctuary
MARTIN KEAN - Design lecturer, publisher
TE RADAR - Comedian

This event is sponsored by the University of Otago, Emersons Beer and Aravin Wines. We would also like to thank the Dunedin Public Art Gallery for hosting the event.

Future Pecha Kucha events

If you or someone you know would be a good candidate for a Pecha Kucha Night presentation, please contact the Fringe Festival by emailing For more information and the full Festival programme go to:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Opening lines

"I often laughed in the middle of the night.

My bones whisper to my blood; my sleep deceives me.
This motion is larger than air; wider than water;
Fly, fly, spirit. A strange shape nestles in my nerves.
Whisper back to me, wit. I'm ready to be alive . . ."
(Straw for the Fire - from the notebooks of Theodore Roethke.)


"When I was young and longed to write, I was much in love with Henry D. Thoreau. I loved the plain declarative sentences and flat statement of belief from which he built his work: 'Surely joy is the condition of life.' 'We must look a long time before we can see.' 'What is time but the stuff delay is made of?'" (The Essays of Henry D. Thoreau, selected & edited by Lewis Hyde)


"The book had no cover. While sleeker volumes cowered inside their jackets, this one lifted its ragged spine to the sun, a winter sun of thin beams and few hours. A sun that sank red disc of hosannahs." (Art and Lies, by Jeanette Winterson)


"March 4. - This morning a bunch of sharp rays of light pierced my port as the sun rose over the icy stillness of the north. It was like a bundle of frosted silver wire, and it served well the purpose of an eye-opener. Sleep here is an inexpressible dream. It does not matter how difficult the work, or how great the anxiety, we sink easily into prolonged restful slumbers." (Through the first Antarctic night - 1900 - by Frederick A. Cook , from The Ends of the Earth, An anthology of the finest writing on the Arctic and Antarctic, edited by Francis Spufford.) 

"A great deal can be learned from the study of children's drawings. It is not the actual forms they draw... but their approach to nature and their purpose in drawing which is so instructive..." (Life Drawing, by P.F. Millard 1946.)


"I had thought, when I set out on my travels - when I first tumbled through that paintbox - that I would somehow find, in the original stories of colours, something pure. It was a naive Garden of Eden moment, and of course I forgot about the rainbow serpent that had to be there in order to make it a real paradise." (Colour - Travels through the paintbox, by Victoria Finlay.)


"Every day you play with the light of the universe.
Subtle visitor, you arrive in the flower and the water.
You are more than this white head that I hold rightly
as a bunch of flowers, every day between my hands."
(Selected Poems - Pablo Neruda.)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Global Snapshot in Words

It's something of a surprise to me to realize that we're already well into March. 

I arrived home from the States this weekend and have been doing what my grandfather called 'rustling.' For Pa, rustling meant pottering in his own space: paying attention to things like the stone collection in his study, tidying his drawers or processing the paperwork on his desk. My homecoming has been about some of that to be sure, but there's been a deeper process at work, too. A wall came down in my house while I was away (by design, rather than by accident) so I've returned to a much-altered space. Building is always an interesting metaphor... how often do we find the events in our external world mirror those of our inner one - and vice versa? Suffice to say I'm in reflective mood, content to be back in the warm, if slightly chaotic, lap of home.

I've been more aware of rhythms and cycles than days and dates whilst traveling these past three or four weeks and have only just remembered that March is the month my Explorers Cove 'snapshot' (the criterion was that it be told in under 500 words) is to due to come out in UK-based magazine, * AnOther. I've just discovered it is in fact out there. It'll be published in hard copy, too, but this is the link to the online version. Hannah Lack is the editor for this special global project, something I was privileged to participate in at the end of last year whilst down in Antarctica. 

The introduction to the travel-oriented 'Document' edition reads as follows -    

'... This issue of AnOther Document - a literary magazine within a magazine - takes the spirit of travel and adventure as its theme, reaching out to writers and creatives across the world to explore, dream and discover. 

Musician Adam Green writes a European tour diary, anti-tourist Daniel Kalder discovers Paradise in Texas, we climb a mountain with Robert Facfarlane, journey back in time to 70s Marrakech with Yves Saint Laurent, meet the subway train-chasers with Paris Review editor Nathaniel Rich, and cult director John Waters shares some sights of Los Angeles you won't find on the tourist map. 

Finally, we bring together eight of the most exciting writers working around the world today to describe their view at exactly the same moment in time, capturing a Global Snapshot in Words.  What follows is a stimulating mix of truth and fiction, discussion and discovery...'   

I've posted this photograph before, but include it again here because it was taken at 1.00AM on 27 November 2008, the date and time that coincided with the ed's nominated hour for writing. Sam and I each composed a snapshot that night - he scribed his from his cot in the Jamesway: I sat out on the sea ice to write mine. 

The set of eight short stories (from Russia, Australia, South Africa, the UK, USA, Brazil, Germany and Antarctica) begin on page 27 of the mag. (you'll be offered the option of downloading the full issue as a pdf.). The preceding, more in-depth, articles are rich reading, too.  

AnOther is a terrific, innovative magazine whose categories of coverage range through Literature, the Arts, Fashion, People, Projects...   

Three weeks - a precis in images


Site, Ego, Hard, Car

Collaborative journey

Spirit levels - (un)level spirits

Shadow lands

Vacuum. Current. Flow

 Intuition and reason

Cold steel, warm wood

Overlooked surfaces

level heads

Straw for the fire

Friday, March 06, 2009

Electric light orchestra

US traffic lights make me smile and remind me of our NZ bra and shoe fences...  

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The private life of lotuses

I didn't know till this morning that lotuses - specifically the Sacred Blue ones - are still able to germinate after 1300 years dormancy.

Something else I didn't know till the first time I visited the US three years ago is that Albany (which is where I am at the moment) is the capital city of New York State. I'm here to work on various projects with my scientist collaborator, Sam. Today, we dissected an approximately nineteen year-old lotus pod (a mere infant) that I harvested from a pond in a Cape Town park during the years my family still lived in South Africa. 

Sam shaved off enough of the outer husk to free two rather shriveled-looking seeds from their protective chambers: we placed these seeds onto an aluminum 'stub' and popped them into an hermetically-sealed 'sputter-coater' where a fine layer of gold was deposited onto their surfaces (a necessary process for most specimens designated for scrutiny by a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM).). Specimens need to be coated with gold because the surfaces of most biological materials are effectively transparent to the electron beam generated by the SEM. There are two detectors in the SEM chamber creating signals from electrons traveling off the gold-coated specimen. These are used to make up images. Without this coating of gold, the electron beam would penetrate deep within the specimen rather than imaging the surface. 

We spent a good few hours examining and recording the seeds' structure and surfaces via the eye and mechanism of this powerful instrument. I took half a dozen videos over the course of the afternoon and have been trying to upload one so you can see how exciting this method of observation can be... but, ah me - having not uploaded a video onto this blog for a wee while, I can't for the life of me remember how to do it. You'd think I'd know better having just been taught a whole raft of new film and video-related skills! (And why is this paragraph being underlined all of a sudden, I wonder?) Perhaps because it's late. I'm going to call it a day and give things another go tomorrow when I've had a good sleep.   

Meantime, here are a few stills showing the complex landscape of a very small lotus seed -